About the collaborative process

The missions of the Committee of the Regions

The Committee of the Regions is the EU’s assembly of regional and local representatives. Its mission is to involve regional and local authorities in the European decision-making process and thus to encourage greater participation from citizens.
Its political action is based on the belief that cooperation between the European, national, regional and local levels is essential if we are to build an ever closer and more mutually supportive union among the peoples of Europe and respond to the challenges of globalisation.
To this end, the Committee of the Regions works closely together with the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, and in the Member States with the various tiers of authority, in order also to promote multilevel governance.

Multilevel governance: a political priority for the Committee of the Regions
To achieve this goal, the Committee of the Regions harnesses the potential of the Treaty of Lisbon, which enshrines the EU’s territorial dimension and confers new powers on the Committee. The CoR also builds on the recommendations made in the White Paper on Multilevel Governance, which it adopted in June 2009.
Following the adoption of the White Paper and the publication of the related consultation report, an initial step has been taken to promote greater account being taken of multilevel governance in the workings of the European Union, in the form of an annual scoreboard measuring the degree to which the EU institutions take account of the principles and mechanisms of multilevel governance when drafting, implementing and evaluating major European strategies and policies.
This action has been supported by the public consultation launched by the Committee of the Regions and the political initiative advocated by the White Paper to “initiate a consultation process with a view to drawing up a European Union Charter on multilevel governance”.

 A Charter on Multilevel Governance

The results of the public consultation on the White Paper on Multilevel Governance have endorsed the CoR’s project to incorporate a common and shared understanding of European governance into the values underpinning the European Union.
This process can take the lead from a number of exploratory discussions that have been held, in particular at a workshop on The Elaboration of a European Charter on Multilevel Governance (MLG), held in Brussels on 22 June 2010, which brought together a number of experts, in particular academics and representatives of the Council of Europe. An initial academic discussion took place on the overall objectives, contents and implementing arrangements of a prospective European Charter on MLG.
This Charter should take the form of a real charter for the 21st century and whose drafting, implementation and follow-up should be as inclusive, transparent and open as possible for all tiers of government and the public.
This non-binding Charter is designed to provide an incentive, leading to genuine participation by local and regional authorities and the European public in exercising European democracy and to a common and shared understanding of European governance. It should also help emphasise the vitality and diversity of European regionalism and its role in the smooth functioning of our democracies and the contribution that can be made by active citizenship. In this process, consideration should be given to the lessons that can be drawn from existing charters and reference texts, especially the Council of Europe’s European Charter of Local Self-Government.

An approach based on usage…
On the basis of a call for tender set-up in Autumn 2011, the Committee of Regions retained Strategic Design Scenarios (SDS), a sustainability innovation lab based in Brussels and specializing in co-design processes, scenarios of use and definition of new product-service-policy systems to support them in the process of collaborative elaboration of the European Charter. A key point of the approach proposed by SDS is to focus on usage: beyond the synthetic written content, a Charter is a political object that addresses a variety of users: local and national elected people; civil servants from local public institutions, academic researchers and experts of governance, lawyers, journalists, citizens… Each of these profiles of people makes for different usage of a Charter and the form of the object Charter should support these multiple usages, facilitate them and diffuse them across levels and between institutions. It should also inspire new applications of multilevel governance, derive creative practices on the field and support a vivid and evolving dialogue between stakeholders…

A collaborative emulation process…
The approach and methodological process to produce the multilevel governance Charter is designed to correspond to the multilevel governance, to both inspire and be inspired by its very principles. In particular the approach is collaborative, engaging a dialogue with representative from the different levels, from local to regional and national authorities to the European institutions, trying to involve as much as possible a variety of stakeholders with enough European coverage. The approach is intended to be also participative, using workshop, online and offline co-creation tools, involving participants to both co-produce the new Charter and write collaboratively its content. Experimentation is also an issue in the perspective of multilevel governance in order to test the effect of a public action before implementing it. And so it is for the approach proposed to build the Charter.

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